UPDATE County sought state clarification on Matulewicz’s petition to be on ballot | Election
SUNBURY — Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz’s name might not appear on the May primary election ballot after county officials said his petitions were filed after the deadline on March 7..
Matulewicz arrived at the elections office close to 5 p.m. that day and began to hand in his petitions, and the time stamp said 5:01 p.m., according to county records. Chief Registrar Lindsay Phillips accepted the petitions while Matulewicz was signing the paperwork on Tuesday.
The office, which county officials said closes at 4:30 p.m., had three other county candidates inside at 4:45 p.m., including who would have been Matulewicz’s opponent, Sunbury attorney Mike O’Donnell.
Commissioner candidates Slade Shreck and Vinny Clausi, along with state Rep. Republican candidate Joe Moralez were also in the office after 4:30 p.m. along with members of the public and media.
O’Donnell challenged Phillips and asked her why she was accepting the petitions, and Phillips said she made calls to state officials who said the office was open until 5 p.m.
Phillips then told O’Donnell that state officials called her back and said if the office was closed at 4:30 p.m. then that is the official rule.
Phillips accepted the petitions on March 7, and the next morning, released a statement.
“The petitions were accepted as a courtesy pending review and a check with state code/statute,” Phillips said in a press release on March 8.
“After review and consultation with the Department of State, it was determined the filing deadline was 5 p.m. for state offices and the county deadline was 4:30 p.m. on March 7,” the release noted. “The petitions for District Attorney Tony Matulewicz will not be accepted because they were handed in after that time.”
Northumberland County Commissioner and Chairman Sam Schiccatano said the office closes at 4:30 p.m.
“The building was open, so evidently people were still coming in and once they started questioning what time petitions were to be collected, a call was made to the state,” Schiccatano said. “The state said they collected until 5 p.m. for state offices, but they were not 100-percent sure about counties. So we took Tony’s (Matulewicz) petition and stamped them until we were sure.”
Schiccatano said the office called state officials Wednesday morning.
“We were told it was the only to be accepted until 4:30 p.m. and we notified Tony immediately,” he said. “Because there was confusion, we wanted to make sure what we did was right, and that’s why we waited until we heard from the state. We only accepted his petition as a courtesy and we want to make sure elections are run in the right manner and nothing was done wrong in this case.”
Matulewicz did not say anything to the media after he filed his petitions Tuesday about why he arrived at the election office just before 5 p.m.
Northumberland County Republican Chairwoman Deb Betz said she was disappointed Matulewicz allegedly missed the deadline.
“It’s very sad to see this happen,” she said. “It would have been nice to see two Republican candidates on the ballot and let the people decide who they wanted to vote for.”
Matulewicz, who would have been seeking his third term in office, declined immediate comment on the situation. O’Donnell also declined comment.
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